Theatre of resistance, rebellion and rawness.

— REVIEW of ‘Unsex Me’ | perthartslive

Unsex Me by Mark Wilson | Review

Unsex Me | MKA and Mark Wilson

This show’s reputation precedes it. There has been a lot of anticipation, excitement and buzz about it in the independent sector, describing it as “life-changing.”

I can understand the sentiment, even if I can’t join in; Unsex Me will shake you up in one way or another. Mark Wilson has created something confronting, challenging, unnerving. You will squirm in your seat, laugh uncomfortably, groan, possibly cry. You may want to hide your eyes. You may want to walk out. And while this sounds like a reason to avoid this piece at all costs, don’t. DO go see it.

What you will see is a man in drag, giving you a character fantasy about being an Academy Award-winning actress. She is about to begin filming the role of a lifetime, Lady Macbeth, directed by her famous film director father. It’s all camp and satire for the first 20 minutes, and for a bit you think you might be watching a Spiegeltent cabaret act in some other part of Fringe World, complete with audience participation from a good-natured, but slightly reluctant bloke.

But soon Wilson rips away that illusion. Things get really dark. But the audience can’t give up its need to laugh, and indeed Wilson’s contorted expressions and exaggerated explosions do seem to call for it. Then Wilson walks to the edge of a precipice, and without hesitation or warning, he jumps right off. We’re ushered into places we’re really not used to going in public. Eventually, he weaves the character fantasy in with an analysis of Lady Macbeth that makes us think about symbolism and storytelling in a patriarchal context. Wilson’s final act is to force a paradigm shift, removing Lady Macbeth’s demise from an ancillary effect of Macbeth’s story, and instead demanding that we see it as its own harrowing female tragedy.

So many times, theatre-makers take us to the edge, then hint and allude to what would happen if they jumped, but never actually go through with it. I often wonder what would happen if theatre-makers in Perth began to make really dangerous theatre, theatre that risks alienating some people and shaking others out of their comfortable stupor. Theatre that incites as much as it inspires. Theatre that mixes agenda with artfulness, firmly, blatantly, without apology, without irony, without backpedaling so that we doubt its sincerity. Theatre of resistance, rebellion and rawness. Theatre without a parachute.

This is what Unsex Me is.

“Theatre of resistance, rebellion and rawness.”